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Narcissistic personality disorder

Definition

Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which there is an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with one's self.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of this disorder is unknown. Narcissistic personality disorder usually begins by early adulthood.

Symptoms

A person with narcissistic personality disorder:

  • Reacts to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation
  • Takes advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
  • Has feelings of self-importance
  • Exaggerates achievements and talents
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love
  • Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
  • Requires constant attention and admiration
  • Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy
  • Has obsessive self-interest
  • Pursues mainly selfish goals

Signs and tests

Personality disorders are diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

Psychotherapy may help the affected person relate to others in a more positive and compassionate manner.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome varies with the severity of the disorder.

Complications

  • Relationship and family problems
  • Alcohol or other drug dependence

References

Moore DP, Jefferson JW. Narcissistic personality disorder. In: Moore DP, Jefferson JW, eds. Handbook of Medical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2004: chap 140.

Young JQ. Narcissistic personality disorder. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2008: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.


Review Date: 10/17/2008
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Timothy A. Rogge, MD, private practice in Psychiatry, Kirkland, Washington. Also reviewed byDavid Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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